Analysis from Winnipeg
→ It was just game one of a long 82, but that was certainly not representative of how the Carolina Hurricanes wanted to begin the 2016-17 season.
Leading by three goals in the third period, the Hurricanes dropped a 5-4 overtime decision to the Winnipeg Jets.
"We've just go to find a way to win those games because you can't be giving up those leads in the third," Jeff Skinner said.
"It's a tough way to lose a game," Lee Stempniak said. "To a man, everyone knows it's not acceptable to lose a game this way, especially in the season opener."
Video: CAR Recap: Hurricanes let Jets rally, lose in OT, 5-4
→ The Hurricanes established a 4-1 lead on a power play just over five minutes into the third period. Then, the Canes were rewarded with another man-advantage. Off the ensuing faceoff, though, Blake Wheeler intercepted a Jeff Skinner pass and scored a shorthanded goal, the turning point of the contest.
"That was definitely not a good pass. That's not a good play by me," an honest Skinner said after the game. "That leads to their second goal and a pretty big momentum change. Not a good play at all. It's tough for the team to bounce back after that."
"They had a little push in the third, and obviously we didn't handle it," head coach Bill Peters said. "They got momentum off the shorthanded goal, and the rest unfolded the way it unfolded."
Later, Patrik Laine, in his first NHL game, sniped a wrist shot on the man advantage to trim the Canes' lead to just a goal. Then it was Matthieu Perreault on the door step tapping the puck in to make it 4-all with just over a minute left to play in regulation.
In overtime, Wheeler fed Mark Scheifele on a 2-on-1 rush for the game-winning goal, which sent MTS Centre into a frenzy.
"Unfortunate when we made it 4-1 that we didn't manage the puck better," Peters said.
→ So how did we get there? Everything prior to Wheeler's shorthanded goal was trending in the right direction. The Canes seemingly had control of the game, up 4-1 with 15 minutes left in regulation.
Jeff Skinner, Victor Rask and Lee Stempniak comprised what was probably tonight's best line. Both Skinner and Stempniak registered a goal and an assist, in addition to creating numerous other offensive looks both at even strength and on the power play.
In the first period, it was Stempniak finding Jeff Skinner wide open for a shot, rebound a goal, which evened the score at one before the first intermission.
In the second period, Skinner fed Noah Hanifin for a booming slap shot from the point that was helped into the net by Stempniak who, along with big-bodied Bryan Bickell, was providing net-front presence on the power play.
Then in the third, Rask skated across the blue line, fired and scored the team's second power-play goal of the game, which made it a 4-1 contest.
"I thought we were good," Peters said of his team's first 45 minutes. "We limited the shots and scoring chances through 40."
"The power play was good," Skinner said. "A couple power plays were a little sluggish, and we'll work on some timing stuff. But it was nice to get two goals."
On the other side of the special teams coin, the penalty kill was a perfect 4-for-4 before the Jets' comeback, which included nearly two full minutes worth of a 5-on-3 kill in the first period.
"That's a big turning point right there," Peters said. "We were already down one at the time, so you give one up there and you're down two on the road. It makes it pretty tough, so it was a good penalty kill."
"Huge job by the PK in the first two periods, keeping us in there and allowing us to get that lead," Skinner said. "We just need to figure out how to finish those games."
→ Jordan Staal scored a timely goal late in the second period which at the time stretched the Canes' lead to two goals. Viktor Stalberg was entangled with Dustin Byfuglien who, instead of tracking the puck, opted to go after Stalberg. Meanwhile, Staal swooped in to snag the loose puck before firing it past Connor Hellebuyck.
→ The Hurricanes have not won a season opener since October 2010, when they topped the Minnesota Wild in Helsinki. Tonight, they grab a point, though two points were well within reach.
→ From here, it's off to Vancouver for a match-up with the Canucks on Sunday. A young team, the Hurricanes will take this game, learn from it and move forward.
"You've got to take your medicine in the sense that we played a good game and were in control of the game," Stempniak said. "The teams in the playoffs at the end of the year don't let these points slip away. It's so hard to win games in this league, and when you've got the lead going into the third and seemingly in control, you can't let it slip away."
After all, there are still 81 games left in the season.
"They've already talked amongst themselves, and they know what happened," Peters said. "It's going to be an opportunity for us as coaches with a lot of teachable, coachable moments we've got to get better at over the next 81 games."
"It's the first game. We've got 81 more," Skinner said. "That's something we can take and learn from. You don't want to be giving up leads like that in the third."